I remember walking through my college cafeteria with the Four Spiritual Laws in hand looking for people who might be interested in having a spiritual conversation with me.
Sometimes I’d open up the conversation with, “If you were to die tonight, do you know where you would go?” Or I’d ask, “On a scale of 1–10, how interested are you in spiritual conversations?”
I was often rejected…
Other times, I was met with skepticism. And on the odd occasion, I was actually able to share the gospel and see that individual discover a new life in Christ.
While evangelism strategies that rely solely on the verbal proclamation of the gospel still have their place, they are definitely waning in influence.
The solution is not necessarily to swing the pendulum the other way and just live out the gospel and love people to conversion, either.
Tim Keller frames it well,
If the gospel were primarily about what we must do to be saved, it could be communicated as well by actions (to be imitated) as by words. But if the gospel is primarily about what God has done to save us, and how we can receive it through faith, it can only be expressed through words. Faith cannot come without hearing.
Since the gospel is more about what God has done than what we can do, it needs to be proclaimed through words.
But since crusades, street preaching, and spontaneous evangelism are waning in their effectiveness and influence in many parts of the West, we need to figure out different ways to invite non-Christians into the types of environments where they can hear the gospel proclaimed to them.
This is why we need a both/and approach to sharing the gospel!
There needs to be something different about the way Christians live that forces non-Christians to ask questions. If a non-Christian looks at your life and sees the same fruit, or lack thereof, as theirs, they will see your faith as mere empty religious behavior. Isn’t that why Peter urges us to live as “foreigners and exiles” and “to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul” (1 Pet. 2:11)?
We need to live as outsiders and be distinctly different from society. We need to “live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Pet. 2:12)! [Read more…] about A Both/And Approach to Sharing the Gospel